What is oral surgery?

Oral surgery is a general term that refers to a wide variety of dental procedures. The term “oral” refers to the mouth and related structures, and “surgery” refers to the cutting or removing of tissue in order to treat problems or correct conditions.

Oral surgeries include: The most common oral surgery is simple tooth extraction. This is when a dentist removes a tooth for any reason at all, such as a cracked or damaged tooth, or one that is causing discomfort because it is pressing on adjacent teeth or other parts of the mouth. Another common oral surgery is the removal of impacted (wedged) wisdom teeth.

This is usually done under local anesthesia in a dentist’s office, and can usually be completed in one visit. Impacted wisdom teeth are difficult to remove due to the fact they are located behind the cheek teeth (the upper and lower jaw teeth). If not removed, impacted wisdom teeth can cause serious problems, including infection and even cancer. Other common oral surgeries include the removal of benign (non-cancerous) tumors, cysts, and growths from the lining of the mouth and jaws. 

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    Why do patients need oral surgery?

    No matter what procedure is being performed, the primary reason for having it done is to improve the patient’s quality of life. Oral surgeries are often necessary to treat or prevent conditions that can lead to more serious health problems. Some examples of this are: When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, it can become infected. Left untreated, this can result in a serious health problem that requires hospitalization and possibly amputation of the affected limb. Another common condition that requires oral surgery is the buildup of plaque and tartar (a hardened bacterial film) on the teeth.

    However, there are several reasons people need oral surgery:

    Tooth Decay: Tooth decay is very common. It’s a natural process that happens when certain bacteria get into your mouth and begin to eat away at the enamel (the tough outer layer) on the surface of your teeth. This causes a cavity or decayed area. If left untreated, tooth decay can cause serious problems such as infection, heartburn, and tooth loss.

    Tooth pain: Tooth pain is one of the main reasons people seek out oral surgery. When a tooth is cracked, chipped, or damaged in some way, it can start to hurt. This is why it’s important to have the damage treated as soon as possible.

    Jaw Problems: Another common reason people need oral surgery is to fix a jaw or facial deformity. Something as simple as an overbite or an underbite can cause problems with your appearance and your ability to eat comfortably. It can also interfere with your speech and your ability to be comfortable when you are talking to others.

    Cosmetic concern: Some people (usually adults) want to improve the look of their smile for purely cosmetic reasons. Maybe they’ve had a set of teeth for most of their life and would like to change the color or shape of their teeth for a more pleasing overall appearance.

    Who performs oral surgery?

    Yet another question that comes up when people hear the word “dentist” is, “Does that mean only a dentist can do the surgery?” The answer is no. In fact, most oral surgeries are performed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons. These are doctors who have specialized training in the field of oral and maxillofacial surgery. There are many oral and maxillofacial surgeons in the U.S., and they can be found in major cities, as well as some small towns. They are generally found in urban areas because that is where the demand is for their services. But, if you need oral surgery, you can usually find one near you. To locate a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon, contact your dental professional or ask at your local hospital or clinic.

    How much does oral surgery cost?

    Oral and maxillofacial surgeries are expensive. They cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on how complicated they are and how many teeth are being removed. If you need several types of oral surgery, such as a double jaw reduction or a complete set of dentures, the cost can be much higher. However, there are some oral surgeries that cost less than others.

    Some of the more common procedures include:

    Removing wisdom teeth (third molars): Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt into the mouth. The best time to remove them is during your teenage years. This is because wisdom teeth usually don’t cause problems until after you have finished growing. If left in place, wisdom teeth can become impacted or cause infections and cavities in the surrounding teeth.

    Wisdom teeth removal is one of the most common oral surgeries and can cost anywhere from $300 to $900 per tooth.

    Cleaning and shaping teeth: Dental professionals often recommend cleaning and shaping every six months. This helps remove plaque and tartar (a hardened bacterial film) that can build up on the teeth. It also helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease. This type of procedure usually costs about $100 per person.

    Repairing or replacing cracked, broken, or discolored teeth: Damaged or discolored teeth can cause discomfort when you eat or when you speak. They can also cause embarrassment. If the damage is severe, it can even cause you to lose your teeth. Damaged or discolored teeth can be treated with a simple filling. If the damage is more extensive, it may be necessary to replace the tooth. This is an expensive procedure.

    Is there any risk involved?

    As I have said many times, there is no such thing as “dentistry with no risks.” But, most risks are associated with simple things like filling a cavity or placing a tooth back into its original position. Oral and maxillofacial surgeries carry with them some degree of risk. The two major concerns are anesthesia risk and post-operative infection.

    Anesthesia risk: As I mentioned earlier, oral and maxillofacial surgeries are usually performed under local anesthesia. This type of anesthesia uses a numbing agent (usually a spray) to put you to sleep before the surgeon starts cutting. Most people experience little or no pain during the surgery. But, because of the type of anesthesia used, there is always a chance the surgeon will need to give you a stronger type of anesthesia. In that case, you could become aware of the surgery while it is going on. And, if you do become aware, it will be much more difficult for the surgeon to stop the procedure and repair any damage that has been done. 

    What should I expect after oral surgery?

    On the whole, most people recover well from this type of surgery. However, it is important to let your dentist know if you feel any pain or have any bleeding or swelling following the procedure. You should also call your dentist as soon as possible to check on you. Your dentist will want to make sure your wound is healing properly and that there are no signs of infection.

    Post-operative infection: The most serious risk associated with oral surgery is post-operative infection. Infection can lead to complications like abscesses, fistulas, and scarring. If this happens, it may be necessary to remove a tooth or part of a tooth and to place the area under special antibiotic treatment. The cost of post-operative infection is very high. But, there are things you can do to reduce the chance of infection. Before you go into the surgery, ask your dentist to give you a prescription for antibiotics. Make sure you take the entire prescription. This will help prevent infections. You should also follow his or her instructions regarding taking the medication.

    What are some of the side effects of oral surgery?

    Whereas most people experience little or no pain during their surgery, many do experience some degree of discomfort afterward. The most common side effect is bleeding. It is usually minor and will stop on its own. But if it does not stop on its own, or if it becomes excessive, it could be a sign of a more serious problem.

    Infection is the other major side effect. As I said earlier, infection is something that can occur after any surgery. But with oral surgery, it is much more likely to occur due to the use of anesthesia. If it does occur, it will most often appear in the first few days after the procedure. It may be minor and go away by itself. Or, it may become serious and require medical attention.

    Anesthesia risk: There is always a chance the anesthetic won’t work properly. In that case, you could feel the surgery, experience more pain than expected, or even become nauseous or faint. All of these things could happen during or immediately after the surgery.

    Soreness: After most dental procedures, you will experience some level of soreness. But, this will diminish over time.

    Swelling: Sometimes, after oral surgery, you will experience swelling. But, this will go down significantly within a few days.

    Oral surgery is very safe. But, like any other type of surgery, there is always a chance something could go wrong. So it is important to be aware of what to expect after the procedure and to pay close attention to your dentist and any signs of problems that may arise.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What should I do if I need another tooth removed?

    If you are experiencing severe tooth pain and need to have one or more teeth removed, you should call your dentist as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the problem gets worse. You could end up with a serious infection.

    Is cosmetic dentistry safe?

    Yes, cosmetic dentistry is almost 100% safe. The only time it could be dangerous would be if a dentist was not performing the procedure properly. But even then, it is extremely unlikely.

    Are there any side effects associated with veneers?

    There are very few side effects associated with porcelain veneers. The main ones people complain about are discoloration and staining. But these are both temporary.

    Do I need to spend a lot of money to have a beautiful smile?

    That all depends on what you think is a beautiful smile. If you think a straight, white smile is the standard for a beautiful smile, then the answer is yes, you will have to pay a lot to get that kind of smile.

    Can cosmetic dentistry help me to lose weight?

    Yes, it can. By improving your appearance, you’ll probably feel better about yourself and that can help you to shed some pounds.

    Can cosmetic dentistry improve my speech?

    Yes, it can. If you’re having trouble with your pronunciation or articulation, having a new set of teeth could help.